- “Government paves way to bring in tough ‘Plan B’ Covid rules” – Councils are being consulted over support for measures such as vaccine passports amid warnings by senior doctors that NHS faces winter illness ‘triple whammy’, reports the Observer.
- “The lockdown myths need to be challenged” – Calls for more restrictions are all too often based on a flawed understanding of what is really happening, writes Raghib Ali in the Sunday Telegraph.
- “The new public health despotism” – Draconian rules are suppressing our humanity, writes Matthew B. Crawford in UnHerd.
- “Rishi Sunak to spend billions to digitise NHS” – The Chancellor is to give the health service another ‘boost’ by paying for new technology, hospitals and maintenance, reports the Sunday Telegraph.
- “Forget vaccine mandates and mass screening – reason must prevail” – The Government risks doing enormous harm with their ‘one-size-fits-none’ interventions to tackling the virus, like vaccine passports, writes Alex Starling in Reaction.
- “Building back dodgier with Del Boy Johnson” – “This expression ‘build back better’, constantly reiterated across the globe with suspicious synchronicity, seems to be the Prime Minister’s mantra du jour,” writes Sean Walsh in TCW Defending Freedom.
- “A Test for the Public – The Week in Review” – Michael Curzon, S.D. Wickett and Luke Perry discuss the latest Covid stories in Bournbrook Magazine’s regular podcast.
- “Austria considers lockdown that will only stop unjabbed from going out” – Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced the news late on Friday during a meeting with state-level leaders to discuss a national response to increasing infection numbers.
- “Net Zero target relies on rise in windy days” – The disclosure prompts questions over the accuracy of the CCC’s claims about the feasibility of meeting net zero by 2050, writes Edward Malnick in the Sunday Telegraph.
- “Boris Johnson should trust the market to solve climate change” – “We still don’t have a clear estimate from the Government on the cost of reaching net zero by 2050,” writes Annabel Denham in the Spectator.
- “My Grandfather’s Son by Justice Clarence Thomas – a review” – “It made me realise more wholly that the firmest ideological beliefs, in Thomas’ case austere conservatism, are formed most definitively in the realisations we gain from lived experiences,” writes William Parker in Bournbrook Magazine.
- “Parents who are occasionally abrupt with their children may be guilty of ‘mild neglect’, says NSPCC” – Parents who fall into the category of ‘mild neglect’ may warrant a “targeted short-term intervention” by the local authority or agency, reports the Telegraph.
- “Who had the right to deny a dying man the comfort of a priest?” – “I was shocked by how furious I was when I learned that a Roman Catholic priest had been told by police that he could not enter the building where Sir David Amess had been stabbed to give him the last rites,” writes Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday.
- “Assange supporters rally in London, as U.S. prepares new extradition attempt” – Supporters of Julian Assange have gathered in London to demand freedom for the jailed WikiLeaks founder. Meanwhile, the U.S. is preparing a fresh legal fight to extradite Assange and try him for espionage, reports RT.
- “‘Woke capitalism is killing democracy’” – Vivek Ramaswamy talks to Spiked about how social justice took over the corporate world.
- “The man who wants to wake us up to Woke Racism” – Academic John McWhorter is on a mission to highlight the absurdities of America’s new ‘religion’ – and it could be heading to Britain, reports the Telegraph.
- “The Betrayal Of Our Gay Inheritance” – How has the new trans left come to resemble the old religious right, asks Andrew Sullivan in his latest Substack update.
- “The trans assault on freedom” – Gender ideology is not about liberation – it is about coercion and control, writes Frank Furedi in Spiked.
- “‘I will refuse another lockdown’” – A caller tells talkRADIO: “I’m completely done with it. We’ve all been vaccinated. That’s what they said would take us out of this.”
SAGE says ministers should be more precise about what could trigger ‘Plan B’ restrictions this winter and believes that telling the public to work from home again is one of the most effective measures it should prepare to reintroduce. The Times has the story.
SAGE noted that only about half the workforce had the option to stay at home but urged ministers to prepare for the “rapid deployment” of new measures if infections continue to surge.
Facemask mandates and vaccination passports are also options but are considered to be less effective.
The advisers have also urged Boris Johnson to decide what circumstances would trigger his ‘Plan B’. “Identifying early warning metrics and triggers for intervening is key to responding rapidly,” they said. …
New modelling from SAGE suggests that hospital admissions are unlikely to hit the peaks seen in January, when 4,000 people a day were admitted. But there are concerns that Covid cases could combine with a nasty flu season to drive hospitals closer to the edge.
“Even if peak [Covid] admission levels remain well below those of January 2021, this could still put health and care settings under significant pressure, particularly if this coincides with high numbers of patients with other respiratory infections,” SAGE advisers have told ministers in the past week.
It echoes past comments made by Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, who has said that the Prime Minister must “go hard and go early” with winter restrictions if there is a surge in cases. …
The SAGE documents also include the suggestion that a campaign, coupled with practical and financial support, may be needed to encourage people to stay home if they have cold or flu symptoms, even if they have a negative PCR test for the coronavirus.
The experts are concerned that the pandemic has entered a highly unpredictable phase where small changes in public behaviour, or the effectiveness of vaccines, could have a large impact.
Worth reading in full.
Hundreds of patients in Glasgow are having face-to-face hospital appointments cancelled or rescheduled ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) which begins next week in the hope that this will help to clear up the roads. The Herald has the story.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it would be increasing the number of virtual consultations and moving some face-to-face consultations to different times of the day in order to accommodate a “temporary increase in population” in the city over the two-week climate summit.
Patients began receiving letters over the past week notifying them of changes to their appointments.
It comes amid warnings that the event itself could trigger a fresh spike in Covid cases, piling preassure on an already overstretched NHS.
Health cheifs at neighbouring NHS Lanarkshire – where the majority of non-urgent elective surgeries have been paused since August – have now escalated its risk status to ‘Black’ and confirmed that a number of cancer procedures will be postponed. These will be rescheduled “as soon as possible”, they said.
One Glasgow patient with long Covid symptoms, who is due to see several specialists, told the Herald their face-to-face appointments had been changed suddenly to telephone consultations after months of waiting. …[They said] that it was ironic patients were being switched to phone and video appointments to free up roads for climate deligates flying into Scotland who “really should have held their meetings virtually”.
Worth reading in full.
To read more of the article without hitting a paywall, view the cover of today’s Herald here.
19 months on from the beginning of the pandemic and schools in England are still far from normal. Some have switched to remote learning ahead of the October half-term due to concerns about increasing ‘cases’ and now, 17 local authorities are insisting that stricter measures should be (re)introduced, affecting 1,098,349 pupils at 3,250 schools. The Telegraph has the story.
Councils across the country have reintroduced face masks, bubbles and staggered break times and stepped up self-isolation rules for youngsters. …
Headteachers have been told by ministers that many of the restrictions in place in the last academic year are no longer necessary. However, as cases rise in schools, local public health teams are increasingly encouraging schools to ramp up their measures. …
Nine Maidens Academy, in Cornwall, moved to remote learning at the start of the week, while Admiral Lord Nelson School in Portsmouth closed its doors on Thursday owing to a “rapid” rise in cases.
A dozen councils are advising secondary pupils in their area to wear masks in communal areas at school, and several have introduced more stringent self-isolation rules for children.
This week, Walsall Council advised primary schools to reintroduce bubbles and staggered lunch breaks, and moved all ‘non-essential’ events online. Windsor Council has also told schools to avoid mixing classes or year groups and to cancel assemblies.
Union leaders have repeatedly called for more restrictions in schools, with Kevin Courtney, the Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, claiming the Government’s failure to introduce stricter rules such as face masks is “irresponsible”.
The National Association of Headteachers has urged ministers to bring back rules that would see healthy children kept at home if a sibling tests positive.
But ministers have been warned that parents are “despairing” and their patience with the Government has “worn out”.
Molly Kingsley, a Co-Founder of the parent campaign group UsForThem, said: “Children have been disproportionately burdened by these pandemic restrictions for too long. Now adults are back to normal and the Government ought to be worried about the detrimental impact this is having on children. Parents are really despairing about this.”
Government guidelines say children should only self-isolate if they are showing symptoms or have a positive PCR test result. But councils including Calderdale, Cheshire East and Suffolk have brought back self-isolation rules for children if a sibling or other member of their household has tested positive.
Meanwhile, other councils say children need to self-isolate for three to five days if a family member has Covid, then take a PCR test and only return to school if it is negative.
Worth reading in full.
- “Booster jabs will prevent lockdown, says Rishi Sunak” – Shops, pubs and restaurants must not shut again to deal with Covid, Rishi Sunak tells the Times, insisting there can be “no more lockdowns”.
- “Winter Covid wave won’t be as bad as last year – even without ‘Plan B’” – Modelling suggests hospital admissions will be nowhere near the highs of January unless transmission soars and immunity wanes, reports the Telegraph.
- “It’s not the public’s job to ‘save’ the NHS” – We have now locked down three times for the NHS. How many more do they need, asks Camilla Tominey in the Telegraph.
- “In defence of SAGE’s models” – “The models are not perfect, although they are much improved during the course of the epidemic,” writes Graham Medley in the Spectator.
- “Censorship is rife” – There are continuing concerns about the censorship of essentially all voices questioning any aspect pandemic management, writes HART.
- “Liverpool council health board advises people to work from home in face of rising coronavirus cases” – The Government has been saying the best way to manage the current rise in cases is for people to get vaccinated – including boosters. But Liverpool’s director of public health is advising people work from home to avoid gathering and spreading Covid cases.
- “Unions warn of ‘winter of chaos’ without urgent action to curb Covid” – A joint statement calls for mandatory mask-wearing and attacks the Government’s so-called “laissez-faire approach“, reports the Guardian.
- “Former vaccine chief will return to NHS role amid concern over booster jabs rollout” – Emily Lawson previously led the operational delivery of the coronavirus vaccination programme – and soon, she will be back.
- “‘Years to get children back on track after Covid’” – BBC News reports on how the pandemic has affected child development in one primary school in north-east England.
- “How many people have had Covid” – Does anyone know how many of us have had Covid? This is a critical question that politicians cared about only a year ago, writes HART.
- “Covid and mental health” – BBC Health Correspondent Deborah Cohen reports on the mental health pressures on the NHS as referrals are the highest rate on record.
- “The Infodemic and the Rise of a Modern Inquisition” – “The response to Covid has given the public an unprecedented glimpse of the impressive machinery that forms the global health establishment,” writes Elisabeth Taylor in Quadrant.
- “Labour’s instincts over masks are out of step with the people it needs to attract” – The Left seem to relish the imposition of rules and regulations to control citizens’ behaviour, writes Tom Harris in the Telegraph.
- “Like McCarthyism, America will soon wake up to wokeism” – Americans will look back on the woke movement with bemusement, says Janet Daley in a recent Telegraph podcast with Steven Edginton.
- “‘It’s absolutely appalling’: Unvaccinated Canadians become social outcasts and the new persecuted minority” – In Canada, the supposedly benevolent country that prides itself on inclusivity, Covid totalitarianism has become unavoidably apparent, with its decision that soon only the fully vaccinated can travel, writes Eva Bartlett in RT.
- “My heat pump has me left in the cold” – I was helping save the planet and saving myself the cost of buying oil. The perfect win-win. A toasty house whatever the weather and a minuscule energy bill. But I was wrong, writes John Humphreys in the Mail.
- “Insulate Britain activists are finally taken to court and ‘face jail’” – National Highways has made nine applications to the High Court for contempt of court against Insulate Britain activists for breaching injunctions by “dangerously” blocking the M25 during their protests, reports MailOnline.
- “The public is waking up to the costs of the West’s unilateral eco-disarmament” – COP26 is a problem for Boris Johnson. It is unlikely to reach consensus, and voters at home are wary of the implications of ‘net zero’, writes Charles Moore in the Telegraph.
- “The death of Britain’s dignity” – The Assisted Dying Bill exploits the rhetoric of compassion, writes Mary Harrington in UnHerd.
- “David Amess and the rise of Islamist denialism” – The Spiked team discusses the surreal response to the murder of an MP.
- “How Stonewall was exposed” – The charity can no long explain its fanciful dogmas, writes Douglas Murray in UnHerd.
- “Putin Warns Wokeness Is Destroying The West” – Putin says woke ideology is causing societal ills throughout the Western world and is no different than what happened in Russia during the 1917 revolution.
- “The latest celebrity must have? A trans child!” – “The Facts of Life passed from adult to child have become fictions passed from child to adult,” writes Julie Burchill in the Spectator.
- “Retired surgeon Dr. Tony Hinton says surgeons’ face masks don’t stop viruses and illnesses from spreading” – Dr. Hinton tells talkRADIO that wearing masks “doesn’t give people confidence it keeps fear going”.
Footballers haven’t been the only sportspeople to be barraged by invasive questions about their Covid vaccination status. Tennis players have received the same treatment, but Novak Djokovic is standing his ground, saying reporters are “taking the liberty” to ask whether he has been jabbed and “judg[ing] a person” for not giving the ‘correct’ answer. RT has the story.
World number one Djokovic has repeatedly expressed his reservations about players being pressured to take a Covid jab, and the reigning Australian Open champion insists his decision is a “private matter” amid a string of controversies surrounding the likes of NBA star Kyrie Irving, who has been left out by the Brooklyn Nets because he is not vaccinated.
Djokovic rival Stefanos Tsitsipas found himself at the center of a political row after he made a wide range of remarks about Covid and vaccines, and the Greek – whose own Government seemed to distance themselves from views which appeared to include a suggestion that spreading the virus could have positive effects – now appears to be willing to be vaccinated.
Russian contender Andrey Rublev has become the latest player to drop their apparent reluctance because of the logistical issues not being vaccinated could cause, but Djokovic is yet to openly say he has had the treatment.
“Things being as they are, I still don’t know if I will go to Melbourne,” Djokovic told Blic, speaking ahead of a first Grand Slam of the year in January which is likely to take place under tight restrictions.
“I will not reveal my status, whether I have been vaccinated or not – it is a private matter and an inappropriate inquiry.
“People go too far these days in taking the liberty to ask questions and judge a person.
“Whatever you say – ‘yes, no, maybe, I am thinking about it’ – they will take advantage.”
Daniel Andrews, the Premier of the state of Victoria, has reiterated how difficult it could be for unvaccinated stars to travel to the country, explaining that they may not be allowed in.
“I don’t think an unvaccinated tennis player is going to get a visa to come into this country,” predicted the politician.
“If they did get a visa, they’d probably have to quarantine for a couple of weeks when no other players will have to.
“I don’t think any other tennis player or golfer or Formula One driver will even get a visa to get here.
“Professional sport is part of that authorised worker list and they have to be double-dose vaccinated.”
Worth reading in full.
PCR Covid tests for travel have been scrapped but holidaymakers still face extortionate bills for travel testing, with some providers asking for up to 20 times the price of lateral flow tests in Europe. The Telegraph has the story.
The Government is due to launch a new “bespoke” list of lateral flow test providers… with fully jabbed travellers able to book their swabs ready for their return next week.
However, analysis by the Telegraph of the current firms on the official list that already offer lateral flow swabs show they are charging up to 20 times the price of tests available in Europe.
The Government’s switch from the more expensive PCR tests to cheaper lateral flow swabs for returning travellers is designed to give foreign travel a boost by saving families hundreds of pounds.
But the analysis of existing providers reveals the costs range from £17.99 – offered by 001 Expert Covid Testing U.K. – to £150 by the Private GP Clinic in Sevenoaks, Kent.
At least half a dozen are pitched at £100 or more, although the costs were inflated by offering a bespoke on-site testing service rather than the “click and collect at home” tests the Government has allowed.
A significant number were also priced at £50 or more, compared with all the major European destinations offering lateral flow tests at €30 or less (£25.32). Even the cheapest failed to disclose in their headline price advertised on Gov.uk that packaging and posting will add £10 to the cost.
From Monday, any fully jabbed holidaymaker will be able to use lateral flow tests on their return to the U.K. If they test positive, they can get a free PCR test on the NHS to check their result.
PCR tests have averaged around £70, with the most expensive at £300. It is understood the “bespoke” list for lateral flow tests will include 25 firms specifically authorised to provide them.
Worth reading in full.
The length of time people must wait after receiving their second Covid vaccine dose before getting their ‘booster’ could be cut from six months to five, under new plans being drawn up by the Government and its scientific advisers.
This is strange given that more people (almost three-quarters of a million more people) are already becoming eligible each week for a third dose than are actually being ‘jabbed’. Perhaps ministers have some more ‘nudges‘ in mind for those who are unwilling to come forward. The Telegraph has the story.
Proposals to cut the waiting time for a third Covid jab from six months to five are under discussion in Whitehall, with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) understood to be showing interest in the idea.
It would mean the vast majority of over-65s could be vaccinated by early November rather than early December, and all over-70s jabbed now rather than by mid-November.
Boris Johnson indicated support for the change on Thursday, saying it was an “extremely important point” and the programme should move “as fast as possible”.
Analysis by the Telegraph suggests nine million more people could get a booster jab if the change happened now, doubling the number of those eligible.
Jeremy Hunt, the former Health Secretary, floated the change on Thursday as a way to boost the number of people who have maximum Covid protection before Christmas. …
The roll-out of Covid booster jabs, which offer people aged over 50 a top-up to their immunity, has been criticised after only half of those eligible have taken up the offer.
There has been discussion inside the Government about changing the definition of ‘fully jabbed’ from two Covid jabs to three for those who are eligible in order to encourage uptake, although no change is expected soon. Mr. Javid said earlier this week that demand and not supply was the problem, adding: “We’ve got the jabs – we just need the arms to put them in.” …
It is understood that Downing Street is open to dropping the six-month delay but will wait for any change in advice from the JCVI. [Not that the body’s advice mattered much when it came to the vaccination of healthy children.]
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: This piece about the vaccine roll-out and its diminishing returns by an anonymous substacker called eugyppius is very good. Worth bearing in mind that if the Government has its way anonymous accounts like this would probably be unlawful.
- “There is no case for new Covid restrictions” – The Government must hold its nerve and let us live freely, writes David Livermore in Spiked.
- “The NHS isn’t facing another Covid crisis and Sajid Javid knows it” – If the Government restricts a fully vaccinated nation, it risks ushering in a new way of life for good, writse Fraser Nelson in the Telegraph.
- “NHS has 6,000 spare beds for Covid patients” – The NHS still has 6,000 free beds for Covid patients, says a Health Minister rejecting calls for an immediate return to further restrictions.
- “GPs in England threaten industrial action over in-person appointments” – Family doctors reject the plan to force them to see any patient who wants face-to-face appointment, reports the Guardian.
- “Covid likely to be fatal ‘only for the very old and already infirm’, according to new study” – Well, that only took 19 months!
- “Nerve disorder Guillain-Barre syndrome added as very rare side effect for AstraZeneca Covid vaccine in U.K.” – The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has added Guillain-Barré syndrome, a serious nerve disorder as a possible side effect to the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine after a handful of cases were linked to the jab, reports RT.
- “Risk of heart inflammation in young men higher after Moderna Covid jab” – The CDC has revealed data showing that young men who receive the Moderna Covid vaccine are slightly more likely to develop heart inflammation than those who get the Pfizer jab.
- “What Happened: Dr. Jay Bhattacharya on 19 Months of Covid” – Peter Robinson talks to Dr. Jay Bhattacharya about what we got right, what we got wrong, and what we got really wrong in the latest Uncommon Knowledge podcast.
- “The Covid-Catholic Parallel – been here before?” – “We see unprecedented use of ‘unprecedented’ today. But perhaps the entire phenomenon we are experiencing is not unprecedented,” writes Gregory Sams.
- “Florida has second biggest decrease in new Covid cases in U.S. as DeSantis refuses lockdowns, mandates” – After the media called the Florida Governor “DeathSantis” and claimed Floridians would be subject to perpetual infection, Covid numbers have dissipated in the Sunshine State while beginning to rise in blue states, reports LifeSite.
- “Brutal take-down of mask rule claim” – The authors of a “world-first” Australian face mask study that was ripped apart by experts as “very, very low quality” have issued a response to the criticism.
- “Why doesn’t Amnesty International care that I’m a victim of oppressive pandemic policies if I’m not in Russia or China?” – Finally, the cavalry has arrived… or has it? Amnesty has spoken in support of liberty amid sanitary authoritarianism – but it’s Moscow and Beijing in the firing line, and there’s no recognition of what’s going on in the West, writes Rachel Marsden in RT.
- “The void at the centre of Britain’s net zero strategy” – “We are rapidly approaching a time when wishful thinking collides with reality,” writes Andrew Montford in the Spectator.
- “‘CO2’ and ‘eco-anxiety’ among new additions to Oxford English Dictionary” – Other additions include “climate justice”, “climate refugee” and “climate strike”, in recognition of the youth protests led by Greta Thunberg.
- “Tories are tied in knots over free speech” – The passage of the Online Harms Bill will expose the contradiction between the Party’s libertarian instincts and its desire to confront tech giants, writes James Forsyth in the Times.
- “Donald Trump launches Truth Social app in challenge to Big Tech” – Donald Trump will launch his own social media app “to stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech” after being banned from Twitter and Facebook, reports the Times.
- “No home for Western man — Bournbrook Magazine” – “The rootlessness of the modern world has led to various maladies of the mind,” writes Frederick Edward in Bournbrook Magazine.
- “MIT’s Choice of Lecturer Ignited Criticism. So Did Its Decision to Cancel” – Dorian Abbot is a scientist who has opposed aspects of affirmative action. He is now at the center of an argument over free speech and acceptable discourse, reports the New York Times.
- “Majorities across all age groups are concerned about another lockdown” – The balance of public opinion finally appears to be moving against new restrictions.
- “Covid attitudes have shifted” – New polling published in the Sunday Times suggetsts the number of people who want the Government to limit the spread of the virus at all costs has fallen while the public desire to protect the economy (even if it means ‘more virus’) has become more prominent.
The U.K. Statistics Authority says it is concerned by the misrepresentation of Covid data by the Government and its head, Sir David Norgrove, points out that “we’ve intervened more during the pandemic and made more comments than in the years before”. It is, of course, expected that mistakes are to be made on occasion, but it’s concerning that time and again these mistakes are being repeated, and with damaging consequences. The Telegraph has published a good piece on this.
“With statistics, it’s usually cock-up rather than conspiracy,” [Sir David] added. “They are under pressure and they get themselves into a hole and we have to help dig them out.”
Yet despite this, nothing seems to be changing.
At a press conference from Downing Street on Wednesday evening, Dr. Jenny Harries, the Chief Executive of the U.K. Health Security Agency, took the public through slides showing that there were currently 7,891 people in hospital with Covid in the U.K.
What she failed to mention is that this figure does not only include people admitted with Covid, but also those who test positive for coronavirus while in hospital for another condition.
Hospitals were instructed to distinguish between the two groups earlier this year, but so far it has not filtered down into the official figures.
In fact it is only possible to find the data by scrolling to the very bottom of the “Hospital Activity” page of the NHS website. Even then, the figures are woefully out of date.
At the most recent count for England on October 12th, 26% of the overall cases were not primarily Covid.
If that was extrapolated to Dr. Harries’ British data, it would mean that more than 2,000 people included in the Government’s press conference figure are actually in hospital for other causes.
A similar problem can be seen in the daily reported death figures published on the Government’s coronavirus dashboard. On Tuesday, many experts seized on 223 reported deaths to argue that Britain should enact ‘Plan B’ restrictions.
But the reported death data does tend to jump around depending on the day of the week and reflects deaths over several days. Look at the figures by “date of death”, and it is clear to see the situation is largely plateauing.
Dr. Jason Oke, a senior statistician at the University of Oxford, pointed this out earlier this week, saying: “As we have said right from the beginning, we need to focus on deaths by date of occurrence, not deaths by date reported.
“Reporting Tuesday’s numbers – always the highest – in isolation, tends to exaggerate things, and gives no indication of current trends, which has if anything been slowly falling through September and October, [and] no guarantee of future trends of course.”
Regular readers of the Daily Sceptic won’t be surprised by this report on the misrepresentation of data, especially given our in-house doctor’s repeated highlighting of “a remarkable consistency in [officials] grossly overestimating the numbers of Covid hospital admissions“, and more – but the Telegraph story is still worth reading in full.